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Project Illuminate

Creating Your Own Lights Set at Home

Here is a brief guide to get you started with your own lights and Arduino board. As you go through this guide, please let me know if anything is unclear or if you have any questions.

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Hardware Assembly

Once you have gathered all your supplies, you are ready to assemble your hardware.

First, carefully stretch out your lights left to right. Arrange them so that the controller and plug are to your left, and the lights are to your right. You'll notice that the cable running through the lights is made up of three wires. Take the exacto knife and separate the three wires.

Assuming your lights are laid out correctly (check them!), the top wire is power, the middle is data, and the bottom is ground. You want to connect the ground and the data to your Arduino board. Let's begin with the data wire.

To connect the data wire to the Arduino board, we are going to need to cut it, strip off the green plastic covering to expose the wires, and then add a red connector to each side. (Adding it to each side gives you the ability to reconnect the lights as they were to test them.) To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Using the wire cutters, cut the data wire.
  2. Using the wire strippers, strip the green plastic covering from the wires. This YouTube video (also linked above) includes instructions on how to strip a wire. You want to expose approximately a quarter of an inch of wire. (The exposed wire in the picture below is a bit too long.)


  3. Connect the male end of a red connector to the side of the data wire connected to the controller by inserting the exposed wire into the male connector and then crimping the connector around the wire with the wire crimpers. Tug on the connector to ensure the connection is secure.

  4. Using the same procedure, connect a female end of a red connector to the other side of the data wire. Check your work by connecting the two ends of the connector and then plugging in the lights to see if they still work.

  5. Next, we'll splice into the ground wire. Clip the dark blue piece of the quick splice connector around the ground wire. Quick and easy!
  6. Now, choose two pieces of wire from your jumper wire kit. You'll probably want the two of the longest ones. Connect a male end of the red connector to one of the wires. No need to strip it---just insert the wire and crimp the connector around it.
  7. For your other wire, connect a light blue piece of the quick splice connector. Once again, no need to strip the wire, just insert it into the connector and then crimp.

Congratulations! Your hardware is ready to go. Directions to connect the hardware are on this page, but you should really set up the software (instructions below) first.

Arduino Environment
The last thing you need to do is set up the Arduino environment and drivers on your computer. To do this, go to the Arduino homepage, and follow the Getting Started with Arduino instructions. Once you have followed those instructions for your computer, you are ready to connect your lights!